Gramophone Magazine has named the six finalists for its 2004 award for record of the year. In a continuing effort to boost the profile of the prize, six U.K. celebrities from outside the music world h

Gramophone Magazine has named the six finalists for its 2004 award for record of the year. In a continuing effort to boost the profile of the prize, six U.K. celebrities from outside the music world have been picked to champion the short-list winners in a publicity campaign. The record of the year honor will be bestowed on one winner in a ceremony Oct. 1.

The six finalists are Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro," conducted by Rene Jacobs (Harmonia Mundi); Orlando Gibbons' "Consort for Viols," played by Phantasm (Avie); Arnold Bax's complete symphonies, played by the BBC Philharmonic and conducted by Vernon Handley; Gerard Souzay's "French Song Recital" album (Testament); pianist Leif Ove Andsnes playing the Grieg and Schumann piano concertos (EMI); and Vivaldi's "Vespri Solenni," played by the Concerto Italiano and conducted by Rinaldo Alessandrini (Naïve Opus 111).

The campaign, which will have a widespread press and retail presence in the United Kingdom, was inspired by the surge of success that book retailers experienced in the wake of BBC2's celebrity-sponsored program "The Big Read."

The celebrity endorsers, each of whom has been paired with one disc to promote, are actress and author Joanna Lumley, best known as Patsy on "Absolutely Fabulous" (Mozart); actor, author and director Simon Callow, who appeared in "Shakespeare in Love" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (Vivaldi); British MP and former U.K. Secretary of State for Defense Michael Portillo (Bax); 2004 and 2000 Olympic gold-medalist rower James Cracknell (Grieg and Schumann); Natasha Kaplinsky, host of BBC 1's "Breakfast" (Souzay); and John Simpson, BBC News' world affairs editor (Gibbons).